Other business opportunities include advanced delivery services for homebound patients. However, there are still some remaining hurdles. Local jurisdictions could limit sales and there could be some barriers to doctors who want to participate. Plus, there is uncertainty surrounding the new Federal administration. Still, it's full steam ahead for medical marijuana in Florida unless someone says otherwise.
Monday, January 23, 2017
Terrific UC Davis Law Review Symposium papers on "Disjointed Regulation: State Efforts to Legalize Marijuana"
I just realized all the great articles from the UC Davis Law Review's Symposium on "Disjointed Regulation: State Efforts to Legalize Marijuana" are now in print (and now available at this link) in the December 2016 issue of the UC Davis Law Review: Here is the great set of article with links to the pieces:
Keynote Speech — The Surprising Collapse of Marijuana Prohibition: What Now? by Richard J. Bonnie
Marijuana Legalization and Horizontal Federalism by Brianne J. Gorod
Legal Cannabis in the U.S.: Not Whether but How? by Sam Kamin
Tax Benefits of Government-Owned Marijuana Stores by Benjamin M. Leff
The Colors of Cannabis: Race and Marijuana by Steven W. Bender
The Economics of Workplace Drug Testing by Jeremy Kidd
Marijuana Legalization and Pretextual Stops by Alex Kreit
Legalizing Marijuana and Abating Environmental Harm: An Overblown Promise? by Michael Vitiello
Drug War and Peace by Erik Luna
January 23, 2017 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Criminal justice developments and reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Thursday, January 19, 2017
The Obama administration has largely taken a hands-off approach, releasing a 2013 Department of Justice memo indicating that federal prosecutors and law enforcement agents should not use scarce resources to shut down state-legal operations in places that have “implemented strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems.” To the Obama administration’s credit, the president did recently note marijuana legalization is “a debate that is now ripe” and the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse called for more research to determine which “policy structures — beyond simply prohibition or free market — are most likely to keep harms to a minimum.”
No one knows what the Trump administration will do about marijuana, and Sen. Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing for attorney general didn’t provide much insight. Will it follow Obama’s lead? Trudeau’s? Do something entirely different? The new administration will have at least six options.
Shut it down. The administration could crack down on marijuana businesses in states that have legalized for nonmedical purposes. It would be easy for DOJ to send out “cease and desist” letters to these companies and their landlords. However, there could be serious political costs with states arguing these federal actions would put people out of jobs, increase income for criminals and take tax dollars away from good causes.
Shape the markets. The DOJ could use its discretion to shape what the market looks like in the legalization states. Want to stop stores from selling and promoting high-potency products for nonmedical purposes? A letter could probably do the trick here, too. If not, seizing the products in a store or two could have a chilling effect.
Maintain the status quo. Doing nothing—and sticking with Obama’s approach—is always an option. This would likely lead more states to follow Colorado and Washington and grant licenses to marijuana companies incentivized to maximize profits instead of protecting public health.
Reclassify marijuana. The new administration could support rescheduling marijuana. Currently, marijuana is a Schedule I drug—the most restrictive category—because the Food and Drug Administration remains unconvinced that the whole plant material has an accepted medical use. Rescheduling would make it easier to research the health consequences—benefits and harms—and could have implications for marijuana businesses.
Address federal-state conflicts. The new administration could maintain federal prohibition while supporting legislation or other solutions to address problems caused by the federal-state conflict. For example, banks that accept money from state-legal marijuana businesses are committing federal offenses. The inability to bank like other entities creates challenges for thousands of companies. The administration could also support the creation of a policy waiver system that would make it easier and less risky for states to legally experiment with alternatives to the profit-maximization model, such as the state monopoly approach. (That said, the risk of federal interference hasn’t stopped tiny North Bonneville in southern Washington state from creating a government-owned and -operated store).
Legalize it. The administration could support legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana at the federal level. This would address the federal-state conflicts and allow the feds to impose a national tax or minimum price. It would also be a blatant violation of the international drug conventions that the United States has signed along with almost every other nation on earth (including Canada).
These six options are not all mutually exclusive and each comes with tradeoffs. Importantly, they are all compatible with a federal approach that encourages and supports discussions about marijuana prohibition and its alternatives. But if the feds don’t act, it is possible the United States could end up with a much looser and more commercial marijuana model than if the federal government legalized or created a waiver system.
January 19, 2017 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Friday, January 13, 2017
The title of this post is the headline of this lengthy new article from The Hill. Here are excerpts:
Legislators in more than a dozen states have introduced measures to loosen laws restricting access to or criminalizing marijuana, a rush of legislative activity that supporters hope reflects a newfound willingness by public officials to embrace a trend toward legalization.
The gamut covered by measures introduced in the early days of legislative sessions underscores the patchwork approach to marijuana by states across the country — and the possibility that the different ways states treat marijuana could come to a head at the federal Justice Department, where President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for attorney general is a staunch opponent of legal pot.
Some states are taking early steps toward decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. In his State of the State address this week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said he will push legislation to remove criminal penalties for non-violent offenders caught with marijuana. “The illegal sale of marijuana cannot and will not be tolerated in New York State, but data consistently show that recreational users of marijuana pose little to no threat to public safety,” Cuomo’s office wrote to legislators. “The unnecessary arrest of these individuals can have devastating economic and social effects on their lives.”
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) said during his campaign he would support decriminalizing marijuana. Legislation has passed the Republican-led state House in recent years, though it died when Sununu’s predecessor, now-Sen. Maggie Hassan (D), said she did not support the move.
Several states are considering allowing marijuana for medical use. Twenty-eight states already have widespread medical marijuana schemes, and this year legislators in Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah have introduced bills to create their own versions. Republicans in control of state legislatures in most of those states are behind the push.
Legislators in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Delaware, New Mexico and New Jersey will consider recently introduced measures to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
There is little consensus on just how to approach legalization: Three different bills have been introduced in Connecticut’s legislature. Two have been introduced in New Mexico, and three measures to allow medical pot have been filed in Missouri.
In 2016, voters in four states — Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada and California — joined Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Colorado in passing ballot measures legalizing pot for recreational purposes. Those efforts, marijuana reform advocates say, have lifted the stigma legislators might have felt. “Now that voters in a growing number of states have proven that this is a mainstream issue, many more lawmakers feel emboldened to champion marijuana reform, whereas historically this issue was often looked at as a marginalized or third-rail issue,” said Tom Angell, chairman of the pro-legalization group Marijuana Majority.
Just because measures get introduced does not mean they will advance. In many cases, Angell said, it is governors — Democrats and Republicans alike — who stand in the way. Though Democrats control the Connecticut legislature, Gov. Dan Malloy (D) has made clear he is no supporter of legalized pot. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) has not said he would veto a legalization bill, though he is far less friendly to the idea than his predecessor, Democrat Peter Shumlin.
In New Mexico, Gov. Susana Martinez (R) has called decriminalizing marijuana a “horrible, horrible idea.” Democratic legislators are considering a plan to put legal marijuana to voters, by proposing an amendment to the state constitution. If New Jersey legislators advance a legalization law, they would run into an almost certain veto from Gov. Chris Christie (R).
While 14 state legislatures have legalized marijuana for medical use, no state legislature has passed a measure legalizing pot for recreational use. “Every year, we’ve seen legalizers throw everything at the wall to see what might stick,” said Kevin Sabet, who heads the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “I’m not surprised by any means. I don’t think there’s much appetite to legalize through the legislature.”...
In Washington, the incoming Trump administration has sent signals that encourage, and worry, both supporters and opponents of looser pot rules. The Obama Justice Department issued a memorandum to U.S. attorneys downplaying the importance of prosecuting crimes relating to marijuana in states where it is legal.
Trump’s nominee to head the next Justice Department, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), has been sharply critical of states that have legalized marijuana. In his confirmation hearings this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sessions said current guidelines, known as the Cole memo, are “truly valuable.”
Marijuana industry advocates seized on those comments in hopes of locking Sessions into maintaining the status quo. “The current federal policy, as outlined by the Cole memo, has respected carefully designed state regulatory programs while maintaining the Justice Department’s commitment to pursuing criminals and prosecuting bad actors,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
AG-nominee Jeff Sessions deftly avoids saying too much about aggressively enforcing federal marijuana laws
As expected, during today's confirmation hearing for the position of US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions was asked a few questions about whether and how he would enforce federal marijuana prohibitions. These three press reports on the exchange provide slightly different spins on what Senators Sessions said and did not say:
From The Huffington Post here, "Jeff Sessions Offers No Straight Answers On How He’ll Handle Legal Marijuana"
From Reason here, "Sessions Offers Unclear, Useless Answers on Marijuana During Confirmation Hearing"
From the Washington Post here, "Sessions on enforcing federal marijuana laws: ‘It won’t be an easy decision’"
Though I suspect some marijuana reform activists were hoping to hear Sessions say he would fully respect and order DOJ officials to always defer to state marijuana reforms, such a statement would be in some ways tantamount to saying he would not fully respect federal marijuana prohibition (which is still the law of the land). Consequently, I was not surprised and in many ways encouraged by how Senator Sessions handled these issues. These passages from the HuffPo piece spotlight what I consider the biggest highlight, along with one marijuana advocate's takeaway:
“I won’t commit to never enforcing federal law,” said Sessions, responding to a question about whether he’d use federal resources to prosecute people using marijuana in accordance with their state laws. “But absolutely it’s a problem of resources for the federal government.”
Sessions went on to say that federal guidelines on marijuana enforcement crafted under Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch had been “truly valuable” in determining how to navigate inconsistencies between federal law ― under which marijuana is illegal ― and state laws that have loosened restrictions on the plant. Sessions also noted that if Congress wanted to clear up this confusion, it could pass a law adjusting the legal status of marijuana. Until then, however, he vowed to do his job “in a just and fair way” while judging how to approach marijuana going forward.
“It is not so much the attorney general’s job to decide what laws to enforce,” Sessions said. “We should do our job and enforce laws effectively as we are able.”
Marijuana advocates met Sessions’ stance with guarded optimism, though they cautioned that he had not ruled out the possibility of more aggressive action against legal marijuana states and users. “It’s a good sign that Sen. Sessions seemed open to keeping the Obama guidelines, if maybe with a little stricter enforcement of their restrictions,” said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, a drug policy reform group. “The truth is, his answer was skillfully evasive, and I hope other senators continue to press for more clarity on how he would approach the growing numbers of states enacting new marijuana laws.”
January 10, 2017 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Criminal justice developments and reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Legal marijuana sales in 2016 in North America over $6.5 billion after another year of remakable growth
As reported in this new Forbes article, "North American marijuana sales grew by an unprecedented 30% in 2016 to $6.7 billion as the legal market expands in the U.S. and Canada, according to a new report by Arcview Market Research." Here is more reporting on a new report on the legal marijuana marketplace:
North American sales are projected to top $20.2 billion by 2021 assuming a compound annual growth rate of 25%. The report includes Canada for the first time as it moves towards implementing legal adult use marijuana.
To put this in perspective, this industry growth is larger and faster than even the dot-com era. During that time, GDP grew at a blistering pace of 22%. Thirty percent is an astounding number especially when you consider that the industry is in early stages. Arcview's new editor-in-chief Tom Adams said, "The only consumer industry categories I've seen reach $5 billion in annual spending and then post anything like 25% compound annual growth in the next five years are cable television (19%) in the 1990's and the broadband internet (29%) in the 2000's."
ArcView's analysis uses data provided by BDS Analytics that has access to millions of individual consumer transactions from dispensary partners. “One of the biggest stories was the alternative forms of ingestion,” said ArcView Chief Executive Officer Troy Dayton. “Concentrates and edibles are becoming customer favorites versus traditional smoking.”
Even though the market is putting up huge sales numbers, there is still a great deal of uncertainty that comes with the new administration's approach towards legalization. Dayton believes that President-elect Donald Trump has been consistently in favor of states rights when it comes to legalization. “It's one of the few things he has been consistent on,” he said. Dayton also believes that even if Trump backed away from adult use, he would still favor medical marijuana.
The proposed attorney general Jeff Sessions is a confirmed critic of legalization, but Dayton believes that marijuana will be a low priority for the new administration. In any event, the group is reviewing and preparing for a more aggressive stance toward marijuana from the federal government should that happen. Even with this cloud of uncertainty, Dayton is bullish for the market. He said investment dollars are pouring into California, Florida, Massachusetts and Nevada. “Twenty-one percent of the total U.S. population now live in legal adult use markets,” said Dayton. He also noted that Colorado, Washington and Oregon saw their sales jump 62% through September of 2016 over 2015.
Investors are predominantly interested in investing in new technology within the industry like testing technologies and new growing technologies. Retail also remains attractive as new brands vie to win market share. Dayton also said there is a great deal of interest in Canada. That country's market is smaller than the U.S., but without the overhang of government conflict, it is a good indicator for which businesses could be replicated and thrive in the U.S.
January 3, 2017 in Business laws and regulatory issues, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)
Thursday, December 29, 2016
The title of this post is the headline of this notable lengthy new CNN piece. Here are excerpts:
In 2016, more countries legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes. Marijuana, or cannabis, is "the most widely cultivated, produced, trafficked and consumed drug worldwide," according to the World Drug Report, but its legality has long been a topic of debate worldwide.
In the US, Maine recently confirmed legalized recreational marijuana use, joining seven other states and the District of Columbia. Medical marijuana is now legal in more than half of US states. This mirrors a global trend. Canada approved both legalization and regulation of the drug in 2016, joining Uruguay as the only other country to do so. Ireland, Australia, Jamaica and Germany approved measures for its medicinal use this year. Decisions are still pending in South Africa. Australia granted permission for businesses to apply for licenses to manufacture or cultivate marijuana products for medicinal purposes and to conduct related research.
They join more than 20 countries worldwide trialing legislation regarding access to marijuana and exploring possible benefits. But as with the drug itself, the laws vary, as does the potency of control, and the world is waiting to learn what will work best....
Portugal is a pioneer when it comes to drug reform laws, as the nation decriminalized the possession of all drugs -- not just cannabis -- for personal use in 2001. As a result, the country holds the greatest body of evidence about the impact such a change can have on policy.
"We were a social laboratory," said João Castel-Branco Goulão, director-general of the General-Directorate for Intervention on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies in Lisbon. But filtering out the specific impact in terms of cannabis is difficult. "Experiments are now taking place in other parts of the world," he said.
Having trialed drug reform for more than a decade, Goulão believes that when it comes to defining what's needed for cannabis, there must be a clear distinction between discussions for medicinal and recreational use to "avoid confusion." "People mix medicinal and recreational use," he said. However, he acknowledges that the basis for medicinal benefits from marijuana is strong, with a range of experts, including himself, recognizing its use to alleviate chronic pain, muscle spasms, anxiety, and nausea and vomiting -- most of which are linked to a variety of disorders, including multiple sclerosis and cancer treatment. "I have no problems with medicinal marijuana," Goulão said. "There are conditions I believe can benefit from cannabis use."
Multiple countries have decriminalized personal possession of marijuana, including the Netherlands, Mexico, Czech Republic, Costa Rica and Portugal, in an attempt to address societal problems associated with its use....
Evidence also shows that removing penalties for drug use hasn't led to an increase in drug use in Portugal, as many voices in the opposition would argue. Instead, it reinforces the fact that criminal drug laws do little to deter people from using them, according to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Despite these benefits, Goulão believes that leaping straight into full legalization, rather than decriminalization, is not a wise move. "They are jumping a step," he said, referring to countries such as Uruguay, Canada and some US states. They should instead "decriminalize and watch carefully," he said.
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
As reported in this local article, "Massachusetts lawmakers quietly shuttled a bill to Gov. Charlie Baker's desk delaying the implementation of recreational marijuana by six months." Here is more:
The bill does not affect the provisions that are already in effect: Personal possession inside and outside a person's primary residence, as well as home growing. Those provisions went into effect on Dec. 15, 2016. Under the new law voters passed in November, retail pot shops were likely to open in 2018, after the set-up of a Cannabis Control Commission.
But the bill on its way to Baker's desk changes the deadlines for the commission to draft and approve regulations, vet applicants and issue retail licenses for selling and cultivation. The commission was originally due to be set up by March 2017. The Massachusetts House and Senate passed the bill on Wednesday. Marijuana legalization advocates have repeatedly called for the timelines and deadlines to stay the same, saying they are doable.
"The legislature has a responsibility to implement the will of the voters while also protecting public health and public safety. This short delay will allow the necessary time for the Legislature to work with stakeholders on improving the new law," Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, said in a statement. "Luckily, we are in a position where we can learn from the experiences of other states to implement the most responsible recreational marijuana law in the country," he added, referring to states like Colorado, Oregon and Washington.
December 28, 2016 in Business laws and regulatory issues, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (1)
Sunday, December 18, 2016
As regular readers know, 2016 was a banner year for marijuana reform. Specifically, in addition to eight states in which voters enacted significant recreational or medical marijuana reforms by ballot initiatives, two important "rust-belt, swing-states," Ohio and Pennsylvania, enacted medical marijuana reforms via the traditional legislative process. Here is a round-up of some recent notable news from a number of these states:
From Alaska here, "Downtown Anchorage retail marijuana store opens up shop"
From California here, "Legalization is opening doors for new marijuana entrepreneurs. Are we about to see a pot gold rush?"
From Florida here, "Medical marijuana questions linger after Amendment 2"
From Maine here, "Recount bid ends, clearing way for legal marijuana in Maine"
From Montana here, "Hundreds of patients apply for medical marijuana after court ruling"
From Nevada here, "How will legalized recreational marijuana affect the gaming industry?"
From Ohio here, "Survey finds Ohio physicians not yet sold on medical marijuana"
From Pennsylvania here, "Pa. senator says he used medical marijuana despite ban"
Saturday, December 17, 2016
The question in the title of this post is my reaction to this recent Denver Post article headlined "Colorado researchers receive $2.35M to study marijuana use on driving, other impacts of legalization." Here are details:
In a groundbreaking effort to better understand what, exactly, happened after voters legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado, the state’s Health Department on Tuesday announced $2.35 million in grants to researchers who will help answer that question.
Most of the money — $1.68 million — will go toward two studies that look at the impacts of marijuana use on driving. The first will compare driving impairment for heavy marijuana consumers versus occasional consumers. The other will study dabbing — the smoking of highly potent marijuana extracts — to determine its effects on driving and cognitive functioning.
Other studies receiving grant funding will look at how long marijuana stays in the breast milk of nursing mothers, the adverse effects of edible cannabis products, the cardiovascular risks of marijuana use in people with heart problems, the impact of marijuana use on older adults and, lastly, an “analysis of data from before and after implementation of recreational marijuana in Colorado,” by a psychology professor specializing in addiction counseling at Colorado State University.
“This research will be invaluable in Colorado and across the country,” Dr. Larry Wolk, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said in a statement. “The findings will inform our public education efforts and give people additional information they need to make decisions about marijuana use.”
The Health Department previously spent $9 million as part of a historic effort to fund the study of medical marijuana by a state government. Those research projects are still ongoing. Earlier this year, the state legislature approved funding for the new grants to study recreational marijuana. The Health Department received 58 preliminary applications, which were winnowed to a pool of 16 from which the final seven recipients were selected.
I am pleased to see that Colorado continues to invest substantial amounts into medical and recreational marijuana research, and the roughly $11.5 million spent to date is nothing to scoff at. Nevertheless, this article reports that Colorado "collected more than $135 million in marijuana taxes and fees in 2015," and increased sales data in 2016 would suggest that the state is on pace to collect at least another $165 million or more this year. Consequently, the tax monies raised in Colorado from marijuana reform in Colorado being "reinvested" in needed research is only about 4%.
Though my biases as a researcher is showing through, I think reinvesting only 4% of tax revenues into needed research is woefully inadequate given all the important and unanswered questions raised by marijuana reforms in Colorado. Though picking out numbers here, I think at this still-very-early stage of state-level marijuana reforms that states ought to be seriously considering putting 10% or more of revenues raised back into public health and public policy research on the impact of state-level reforms.
December 17, 2016 in History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Taxation information and issues | Permalink | Comments (0)
Sunday, December 11, 2016
This new USA Today piece, headlined "Chauncey Billups says marijuana can help players," reports on a number of notable persons connected to the National Basketball Association making a number of notable comments about marijuana use by NBA players. Here are the details:
Chauncey Billups, Tracy McGrady, Jalen Rose and Michelle Beadle discussed the NBA's marijuana policy on NBA Countdown this week. The three former players basically said the same thing: The NBA should change its policy, especially taking into account the fact that marijuana could be a safer alternative to alcohol and addictive painkillers.
Billups, who played on the Celtics, Raptors, Nuggets, Timberwolves, Clippers, Knicks and Pistons over the course of a 17-year career, also said he actually liked when certain former teammates smoked marijuana before games because it helped calm them down. He said: "When you're talking about protecting your investment, protecting these players, protecting the guys, if medicinal marijuana, if that's something that can help out with your franchise, with your organization, with your players, that's a discussion that needs to happen.
"I honestly played with players, I'm not gonna name names, but I wanted them to actually smoke. They played better like that. Big-time anxiety, a lot of things that can be affected, it brought them down a little bit, helped them out, helped them focus in a little bit on the game plan, that I needed them to do that. I would rather have them do that sometimes than drink."
Some prior related posts on sports leagues and marijuana reform:
- Golden State NBA MJ fan: Steve Kerr as (unlikely?) medical marijuana advocate
- As a few NFL players continue to talk up medical marijuana, what are the marijuana reform views of all the new NBA multi-millionaires?
- Responding to election results, NFL Players Association moving forward on studying marijuana for pain relief
- How will legalization of marijuana effect sports leagues policies regarding marijuana use?
Saturday, December 10, 2016
In the run-up to the November 2016 election, I suggested that Florida's vote over a significant medical marijuana ballot initiative could be as important as any of the recreational marijuana reform votes taking place in other states. This new Forbes article, headlined "Florida Medical Marijuana Sales Could Rival Colorado By 2020," reinforces my view. Here are excerpts (with links from the original):
Colorado and California may be ground zero for medical marijuana, but Florida could quickly catch up. A new report from New Frontier Data with market data provided by Arcview Market Research projects that Florida's market will grow to $1.6 billion by 2020 at a compound annual growth rate of 140%. That would make it half the size of California's projected $2.6 billion market and top the projected $1.5 billion medical marijuana market for Colorado.
Florida voters legalized medical marijuana during this past election with more than 70% of the vote. Florida has the fifth-highest median age and is one of the most popular places to retire in the country. It is considered to be well-positioned to serve the aging population with medical cannabis products. The New Frontier report believes that Florida could end up becoming 7.5% of the total legal U.S. cannabis market and 14% of the medical marijuana market by 2020.
“Florida has the potential to be one of the largest medical markets in the country. The state is home to the nation's largest percentage of people 65 and older, a demographic for whom chronic pain and catastrophic illnesses are commonplace and expensive to treat. Amendment 2 gives this large patient pool access to legal cannabis as an alternative therapy to their diverse medical needs,” said New Frontier Data Founder & CEO Giadha DeCarcer.
Troy Dayton of The Arcview Group said, “The opportunity for good jobs, tax money and wealth creation created by Amendment 2 passing cannot be understated. And, thankfully, seriously ill patients will no longer need to go to high school parking lots or drug dealers to get their medicine.” Dayton also noted that cannabis entrepreneurs are pretty excited at their prospects in the state.
One example of this is the decision by High There!, a social media site that caters to the cannabis crowd, to move from Colorado to Florida. “When we launched 18 months ago, we felt Denver was the right city to be home to High There!, as it was a legal state. But with Florida legalizing medical marijuana, we realized the opportunity was really in our home state, and High There! could be a model of the economic impact a legal marijuana market can bring to a region,” said co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Darren Roberts.High There! is bringing jobs with it as it moves its headquarters back to the founders home state. The company plans to add positions in operations, and marketing in the coming months, and continues to add strategic partners as the company solidifies itself as a leading technology platform for the cannabis community. The company wants to promote accessibility of medical marijuana and has partnered with United For Care, the largest organization that worked to pass Amendment 2....
December 10, 2016 in Business laws and regulatory issues, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
The question in the title of this post is the headline of this lengthy and interesting recent California Sunday Magazine article. Here are excerpts:
Last year, U.S. legal marijuana was a $5.4 billion business, and that figure is expected to quadruple by 2020. According to one 2016 estimate, the industry and supporting businesses already employ between 100,000 and 150,000 people in the U.S., more than General Motors. California’s recent vote to legalize recreational marijuana — medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 1996 — created the world’s largest legal market and sent the clearest signal yet that widespread legalization is inevitable. (Seven other states legalized medical or recreational marijuana as well.)
The most glaring irony of legalization is that for decades black and Latino communities have disproportionately suffered under harsh drug laws, and now, with those laws in retreat, the entrepreneurs cashing in on the booming business are overwhelmingly white. California, like the four states that had previously legalized recreational pot, imposes restrictions on convicted felons joining the industry; some states also require business-license applicants to demonstrate cash reserves of hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. Both criteria weigh heavily against minority entrepreneurs seeking to enter the industry....
A diverse city with a history of tolerant pot laws, Oakland was hoping to lead the way in creating an industry that compensates for the racial inequalities of the past, but it was struggling with how to translate decades of injustice into still-hypothetical profits. Weeks earlier, Oakland’s city council had passed a remarkable, first-of-its-kind “equity amendment,” guaranteeing 50 percent of cannabis business licenses to former marijuana felons and to residents of several neighborhoods considered especially damaged by the war on drugs. In public statements, Oakland City Council member Desley Brooks, who introduced the amendment, made clear that her intention was to foster minority-owned businesses. “When you look at the cannabis industry here with respect to the ownership, it is predominantly white,” she said from the podium in the drab chamber of Oakland’s city council. People of color “are tired of simply being employees. When do they get an ownership piece of the pie? That is what this is about.”....
Most jurisdictions consider cannabis businesses something between a nuisance and a threat, but the city government in perennially broke Oakland was quick to recognize the economic opportunity in legal pot. It was an early jurisdiction to decriminalize adult use of marijuana, in 2004, and it became the first in the country to license medical marijuana dispensaries, also in 2004. Harborside, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in October, was one of the first dispensaries to open in the city, and it helped pioneer the widely imitated idea that dispensaries should be clean, welcoming spaces, more like Apple stores than smelly, cramped head shops. It now brings in a reported $30 million in annual sales and is an important Oakland taxpayer. After the Justice Department initiated a case against the dispensary in 2012, Oakland took the unprecedented step of suing the federal government on behalf of a cannabis business. (The Justice Department dropped its case earlier this year.)...
As legalization has spread, other jurisdictions have recognized the moral urgency of creating diversity in the industry. So far, none has succeeded. This past summer, Maryland issued its first 30 medical marijuana business licenses, but the process was thrown into disarray once it became clear that none had gone to a woman or an African American. It’s a “very complex problem,” the head of Maryland’s cannabis commission told The Baltimore Sun. Time sensitive, too, since the established companies are getting bigger and richer. Ohio’s medical marijuana law reserves 15 percent of business licenses for minority owners, but this aspect of the law immediately came under legal scrutiny and the program has yet to become operational.
December 7, 2016 in Business laws and regulatory issues, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Race, Gender and Class Issues, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)
Friday, December 2, 2016
I have a hard time keeping track of marijuana reform developments around the world, but these recent headlines highlight that these developments are worth trying to follow:
Thursday, December 1, 2016
"The Case for Pot in the Age of Opioids: Legalizing medical marijuana could save lives that may otherwise be lost to opioid addiction."
The title of this post is the headline of this U.S. News & World Report commentary on a topic that I hope continues to get more and more attention. Here is how the piece gets started (with links from the original):
Medical marijuana legalization won big this Election Day. Thanks to ballot initiatives in Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota, 26 states and Washington, D.C. now have medical marijuana laws. Four states also legalized recreational marijuana, adding to the national trend.
As states embrace pot, the federal government should follow suit and move toward legalizing medical marijuana nationwide to help save lives. In states where medical marijuana is legal, fewer lives are lost to opioid overdoses. Save lives by legally smoking weed? Yes.
Those in favor of marijuana legalization for medical use have strong evidence to support that marijuana is a useful treatment for many diseases. These include the treatment ofseizures, chronic pain and supportive care for those enduring cancer treatment.
Just as important, opioid overdose deaths dropped by approximately 25 percent in states that passed medical marijuana laws, compared to states that have not, according to Johns Hopkins' Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy Research. That's something we can't overlook.
Yet pharmaceutical companies want us to ignore this data. In states where medical marijuana is legal, fewer opioid prescriptions are written compared to states where marijuana is illegal. This means that fewer people are buying the opioid drugs that are so profitable to the pharmaceutical companies.The number of people dying from opioid abuse in the United States has been steadily rising. We can estimate now that approximately 43,000 people will die in the United States from accidental overdoses this year, a number that has grown in the past decade.
Legalizing medical marijuana probably will save lives that would otherwise be lost to opioid abuse and addiction. And as more states move to legalize recreational marijuana, providing even greater access to the drug, one could argue opioid use may drop more.The states clearly understand that marijuana has medical benefits. Now, we need to look beyond the states to change laws on a national level. Failing to do so will end lives that we likely could save. Most notably, marijuana needs to be removed from Schedule 1, so that it can be prescribed and researched more thoroughly.
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Shouldn't a new "grassroots" Democratic Party led by Bernie Sanders get started by focusing on grass and roots?
In the video below from the Late Show, Bernie Sanders tells Stephen Colbert that the Democrats have to become a "grassroots" party. Because of the frustrating tendency in recent years the the Clinton wing of the Democratic party to promote and give power to older, less diverse and more "insider" officials and candidates than the Republican party, I have largely given up on the party and I am fairly apathetic about whether the party gets its act together sooner or later. But I am sure about one thing: if the Democratic party wants to become relevant very quickly and build as a true "grassroots" party, it ought to begin by focusing a lot on marijuana law and policy reform. Specifically, as the title of this post seeks to suggests, I think smart progressive politicians and community organizers ought to be laser focused, at least for the next six months if not longer, on (1) protecting the constitutional rights of citizens in states who are in strict and clear compliance with state marijuana laws (that is the "grass"), and (2) seeking to expand the reach and breadth of existing state marijuana reform laws, with a particular concern for allowing citizens a legal means for at least limited "home grow" (that is the roots).
I make this "pitch" largely driven by the fact that the only significant progressive policy issue that has gone to voters in the last two major election cycles and pretty consistently done much better with most voters (especially white male voters) than the leading Democratic candidate IN RED STATES has been marijuana reform. Specifically, in the 2014 election, in Alaska and Florida, a state marijuana reform proposal got significantly more than 50% of the vote even though, I believe, no democratic state-wide candidate in those two stated got more than 50% of the vote. Similarly, in the 2016 election, in Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota, a state marijuana reform proposal got significantly more support than the leading Democratic candidate. (The outlier here is Arizona, but notably exit polls show 43% of white men supported supported full legalization in the state, whereas only 36% of them supported Hillary Clinton; similarly 45% of whites without a college degree in Arizona supported full legalization, whereas only 35% of them supported Hillary Clinton.)
I could go on and on and on about why the "smart" approach for any political party circa Fall 2016 would be to focus on the bipartisan and wildly popular issue of medical marijuana reform. I will just close by noting that major medical or recreational marijuana reform is now the law of the land in just about big blue and red state except Texas. Specifically, recreational marijuana reform is now the law in "big states" like California (55 EV), Washington (12), Massachusetts (11), Colorado (9) Oregon (7), Nevada (6), while medical marijuana reform is the law of the land in Florida (29), New York (29), Illinois (20), Pennsylvania (20), Ohio (18), Michigan (16), New Jersey (14), Arizona (11), Connecticut (7), Arkansas (6). Notably, I have left out three "small" full legalization jurisdictions from this list (e.g., Alaska, Maine and Washing DC), but my list of bigger states now with major marijuana reform laws on their books after the 2016 election now just happens to add up to 271 electoral votes.
This electoral math and the marijuana map are among the reasons I remain quite bullish about the future of marijuana reform in the United States, and it is why I have been saying to any and everyone who would listen that the truly smart political candidates in BOTH major political parties are likely to be supportive of state-led marijuana reforms. But, given that the election last week highlighted that leading Democrats are not very good at getting to 270, I am not really all that optimistic that the Democratic party will wake up and smell the marijuana reform future rather than keep being focused on the prohibitionist past.
November 16, 2016 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Political perspective on reforms, Polling data and results, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Via email, I received news of this new accounting (with some typos) of reform states and their populations recently produced by folks at Carnevale Associates LLC. In addition, the same folks previously produced a three-page Policy Brief headlined "Policy Debate Must Adjust to Changes in State Law and Public Opinion" which I promoted in this prior post titled "Highlighting the 'knowledge gap' as marijuana reform moves forward at a speedy pace"
Though I will not crunch the numbers here, the accounting of states and populations reveals that before last week, there were roughly 20 million Americans living in states which had passed full marijuana legalization by initiative. Now, thanks to big states like California and Massachusetts and with a little help from Nevada and Maine, the number of Americans living in states that have passed full marijuana legalization has tripled to over 65 million.
November 15, 2016 in History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
This new Huffington Post article, headlined "9 States Are Voting On Marijuana On Election Day. Here’s Where They Stand Right Now," provides a relatively efficient and effective overview of all states to be watching for those concerning about state-by-state marijuana reform initiative developments. Arguments can be made that all five states voting on full recreation legalization are most important as a metric for the future of national reform, though I strongly believe the votes in all four medical marijuana states today should not be overlooked. Here is how the HuffPo piece sets up its state-by-state review:
Millions of voters across the United States are considering measures to roll back longstanding restrictions on marijuana this Election Day. By the end of Tuesday night, five more states could fully legalize weed, which would put nearly one-quarter of the nation’s population in areas that have rejected prohibition and decided to tax and regulate the plant. An additional four states are voting on whether to legalize marijuana for medical use. If approved, pot would become legal in some form in 29 states and Washington D.C.
Marijuana policy reformers say this could be a watershed moment for their movement. “Nov. 8 is the most important day in the history of the marijuana legalization movement,” Tom Angell, chairman of drug policy reform group Marijuana Majority, told The Huffington Post. “The stakes couldn’t be higher. Big wins will dramatically accelerate our push to finally end federal marijuana prohibition, perhaps as soon as 2017. But on the other hand, huge losses could interrupt the momentum we’ve been building for the last several years.”
I would be surprised if there is a consistent voting outcome throughout all the states, though I think is a near certainty that by the end the day a much larger number of Americans will be voting in favor of significant marijuana reforms today than at any other time in US history. That reality alone, even if reform proposals end up losing in a number of states, ought to help propel the national marijuana reform movement forward.
Drilling down into state-by-state outcomes and their impact on the national reform conversation, I have lately come to think the pace of national/federal marijuana reform might ultimately be influenced even more by the vote today in (swing state) Florida concerning medical marijuana than by any of the five recreational state votes. Then again, the recreational initiatives in California (as the biggest US state) and in Massachusetts (the biggest New England state) also are obviously very big deals for the likely future direction and structure of federal reforms. And none of the votes in any of the other states are without national significance and consequence, especially when each vote can help increasing significantly the number of US Senators who are from states in which voters or local representatives have called for some form of marijuana legalization.
Going through the states here by closing times (ET) provides one way to organize and track what reformers can follow most closely throughout the night:
Florida polls close at 7pm where folks are voting on the medical marijuana reform known as Amendment 2
Maine polls close at 8pm where folks are voting on the recreational marijuana reform known as Question 1
Massachusetts polls close at 8pm where folks are voting on the recreational marijuana reform known as Question 4
North Dakota polls close at 8pm where folks are voting on the medical marijuana reform known as Measure 5
Arkansas polls close at 8:30pm where folks are voting on the medical marijuana reform known as Issue 6
Arizona polls close at 9pm where folks are voting on the recreational marijuana reform known a Proposition 205
Montana polls close at 10pm where folks are voting on the medical marijuana reform known as Initiative 182
Nevada polls close at 10pm where folks are voting on the recreational marijuana reform known as Question 2
California polls close at 10pm where folks are voting on the recreational marijuana reform known as Proposition 64
November 8, 2016 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)
Monday, November 7, 2016
The title of this post is the title of this recent report produced by the Marijuana Policy Group, which describes itself as a "non-affiliated entity dedicated to new market policy and analysis [seeking] to apply research methods rooted in economic theory and statistical applications to inform regulatory policy decisions in the rapidly growing legal medical and recreational marijuana markets." Here is part of the report's synopsis:
The Marijuana Policy Group (MPG) has constructed a new model that accurately integrates the legal marijuana industry into Colorado’s overall economy. It is called the “Marijuana Impact Model.”
Using this model, the MPG finds that legal marijuana activities generated $2.39 billion in state output, and created 18,005 new FullTime-Equivalent (FTE) positions in 2015. Because the industry is wholly confined within Colorado, spending on marijuana creates more output and employment per dollar spent than 90 percent of Colorado industries....
Legal marijuana demand is projected to grow by 11.3 percent per year through 2020. This growth is driven by a demand shift away from the black market and by cannabis-specific visitor demand. By 2020, the regulated market in Colorado will become saturated. Total sales value will peak near $1.52 billion dollars, and state demand will be 215.7 metric tons of flower equivalents by 2020. Market values are diminished somewhat by declining prices and “low-cost, high-THC” products.
In 2015, marijuana was the second largest excise revenue source, with $121 million in combined sales and excise tax revenues. Marijuana tax revenues were three times larger than alcohol, and 14 percent larger than casino revenues. The MPG projects marijuana tax revenues will eclipse cigarette revenues by 2020, as cigarette sales continue to decline. Marijuana tax revenues will likely continue increasing as more consumer demand shifts into the taxed adult-use market.
As a first-mover in legal marijuana, the Front Range has witnessed significant business formation and industry agglomeration in marijuana technology (cultivation, sales, manufacturing, and testing). This has inspired a moniker for Colorado’s Front Range as the “Silicon Valley of Cannabis.” Secondary marijuana industry activities quantified for the first time in this report include: warehousing, cash-management, security, testing, legal services, and climate engineering for indoor cultivations.
November 7, 2016 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Employment and labor law issues, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Taxation information and issues | Permalink | Comments (0)
Thursday, November 3, 2016
Via email, I received news of this effective new "Policy Brief" released recently produced by folks at Carnevale Associates LLC. The title of this short document is "Policy Debate Must Adjust to Changes in State Law and Public Opinion," and I especially appreciated its final section under the heading "Closing the Knowledge Gap." Here are excerpts from that section of this helpful document:
Legalizing recreational marijuana is a far-reaching policy change. There is little research available on its potential effects on usage rates or public health and safety. This section highlights what government—state and federal— should do to close the knowledge gap.
The first priority is for data collection, performance monitoring, and analysis. States' regulatory structures should incorporate a feedback mechanism to track key performance metrics and conduct descriptive analyses of the operations of the market and its regulatory oversight system.
The second priority is for a sophisticated research agenda to explore the impact of legalization, including a focus on intended and unintended results of policy. The legal marijuana industry is new and a broad understanding of its functional dynamics are mostly unknown.
Research can provide state policy and program managers the answer to a number of questions, such as:
What model regulations should states adopt?...
How does marijuana use relate to other drug use—e.g., is it a substitute or complement to alcohol use? Opioid use?...
What is the environmental impact of legalization?
How do we test for marijuana use and what constitutes impairment?
How does marijuana use affect driving, workplace performance, and academic achievement?
How do new marijuana delivery systems (e.g., vaping) affect health and do they have other damaging consequences? What are the health effects of second hand smoke?
What is the impact of legalized marijuana on illegal markets? What is the impact on grey markets, where legal home grows of marijuana leak or are diverted into illegal markets?
What is the impact of the new marijuana industry on states’ gross domestic products?
How does the legalization of marijuana affect the social cost of illicit drug use?
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Learn in Italy about Comparative Drug Policy from the Vicente Sederberg Professor of Marijuana Law and Policy
As noted in this post last May, that Professor Sam Kamin of the University of Denver Sturm College had the unique honor to become, thanks to a law firm's endowment, the first Vicente Sederberg Professor of Marijuana Law and Policy. And from Sam I have learned now that law students nationwide now have a unique opportunity to take a unique course from this unique profession in a special setting. Specifically, as this website details, on the Vicente Sederberg Professor of Marijuana Law and Policy will be teaching a special Comparative Drug Policy course as part of the 2017 Denver Law Italy Program in Sorrento, Italy. Here is the official course description:
Comparative Drug Policy (Professor Sam Kamin, 2 credits)
This course will be an investigation of international drug prohibition and the emerging alternatives to it. We will discuss the international agreements that govern the production and distribution of illicit drugs and the role the US played in creating these agreements. We will then examine the growing international consensus that prohibition has not worked and look comparatively at the various alternatives to prohibition being adopted around the world. We will also discuss various metrics for evaluating and assessing the growing number of alternatives to the status quo currently being developed.